William Barroga vs Data Center College et al
Labor Law – Labor Standards – Protection To Labor – When Is There No Diminution of Benefits
In November 1991, William Barroga was hired as an instructor by Data Center College in its Laoag City, Ilocos Norte campus. In June 1992, Barroga was re-assigned to Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Part of the deal for his re-assignment was that Barroga will receive a monthly allowance of P1,200.00 for board and lodging while performing his job in Vigan. However, Data Center made it clear in writing that Barroga is only entitled to the additional allowance while assigned in Vigan and such allowance may be changed or forfeited if he will be re-assigned somewhere. In 1994, he was recalled to Laoag. Later, Barroga was also assigned as the temporary Head of Education; he was also given a scholarship grant to support his post-graduate studies. In 2003, Barroga was advised that he will be transferred to Bangued, Abra. Barroga refused because his father was sick and second, he found out that there will be no additional allowance this time and that he will be working there as an instructor and not as a Head of Education. In the same year, he filed a labor case against Data College for constructive dismissal. Barroga alleged that the real purpose of his transfer is to demote him to the rank of an instructor from being the Head for Education performing administrative functions and that his re-assignment will entail an indirect reduction of his salary or diminution of pay considering that no additional allowance will be given to cover for board and lodging expenses. He claims that such additional allowance was given in the past and therefore cannot be discontinued and withdrawn without violating the prohibition against non-diminution of benefits.
ISSUE: Whether or not the absence of additional allowance in Barroga’s supposed re-assignment constitutes a diminution of benefits.
HELD: No. It is true that as a general rule, benefits and perks enjoyed by employees cannot be reduced and discontinued or diminished. But this rule is only applicable to grants or benefits which are founded on an express policy or has ripened into a practice over a long period which is consistent and deliberate. In the case at bar, Barroga’s additional allowance while in Vigan is not permanent. In fact, Data College made clear that such allowance is only applicable while Barroga is in Vigan and such allowance is no longer applicable if he is going to be assigned somewhere. Further, Data College showed that it is experiencing financial difficulties hence the need to withdraw the scholarship previously granted to Barroga. On the issue of his removal as Head for Education, the same is valid. Barroga was merely assigned in a temporary capacity, such designation is terminable at the pleasure of Data College which made such appointment.